While it seems like most American college students attend right after high school — typically between the ages of 18-22 — not everyone is afforded the same opportunities as others.
Whether it be due to financial reasons, time constraints, or even disability, there is any number of reasons why someone might choose (or be forced) to forgo attending college in favor of taking their lives in another direction.
Some people go their entire lives without attending college, which can often be the right choice for an individual. For others, missing college in their late teens/early twenties is simply a setback on their road to higher education.
In fact, nontraditional students — which the NCES defines according to several factors, such as any student outside of the above age range (18-22), or who attends college less than full-time, or doesn’t live on campus, etc. — actually make up over 70% percent of all college students. This got us at Zippia wondering — which colleges in the US are the most friendly to nontraditional students?
We were curious — so, using IPEDS data from the NCES, we created our own list of the schools in the US that accept the highest number of nontraditional students.
The full list can be found further down, but first, here’s a quick top ten.
Using blank data from the National Center for Education Statistics, we put together a list of schools that had the following educational opportunities for their students:
Following that, we looked separately at what percentage of students from each school were I) enrolled part-time, II) were of a non-traditional age (that is, any age outside of the 18-22 range), and III) were distance-education students. Each school was ranked according to these percentages, with those closest to 100% getting the highest rankings.
We then averaged these three separate ranks together in order to get our final ranked list of the schools that were the most friendly to nontraditional students.
Does your school make the top fifteen? Read on to the full list to find out.
Location: Albany, New York
School Description: A private non-profit college in NY, Excelsior College tops our list with almost all of its students listed as nontraditional in either age or means of education. Excelsior is widely known for its transfer credit policy, wherein almost any credit from another institution will be accepted (provided that the credits are from within the last decade or so).
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
School Description: Capella University is a for-profit, largely online university with a huge population of nontraditional students. The majority of these students are actually obtaining graduate degrees — only 23% of Capella’s student population is made up of its graduate students.
Location: McMinnville, Oregon
School Description: Linfield College, a private college located in McMinnville, OR, is a liberal arts school offering almost 50 majors. The school also has a significant online component, with an adult degree program found on the school’s official website.
Location: Denver, Colorado and Birmingham, Alabama
School Description: American Sentinel College formed from after the merging of the American College of Computer & Information Sciences and American Graduate School of Management. The school now offers business and technology courses from both programs and has a significant online education program.
Location: Charles Town, West Virginia
School Description: American Public University System is comprised of two major institutes: 1) American Military University, and 2) American Public University. Despite the name, APUS is actually a private online university that began life as a graduate school for military personnel in need of specialized training courses.
Location: New Britain, Connecticut
School Description: A public liberal arts school located in New Britain, CT, Charter Oak offers a lot in the way of student assistance, including program planning and credit given for military training or prior learning. Like the other schools on this list, the school provides education through its online learning program.
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
School Description: Nazarene Bible College is a private, coeducational bible college located in Colorado. Its student body is made up almost entirely of nontraditional college students — the school has no on-campus housing, and the average age of its student population is 38.
Location: Rapid City, South Dakota
School Description: National American University is another online for-profit university, this one based primarily in Rapid City, SD. An accredited school, NAU offers courses in a variety of programs including accounting, criminal justice, nursing, and information technology.
Location: State College, Pennsylvania
School Description: Pennsylvania State University is one of the largest public universities in Pennsylvania and is part of Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth System of Higher Education. While it’s widely known for its large campus and large traditional student population, it also has a thriving online university program where the majority of its nontraditional student population finds their home.
Location: Kansas City, Missouri
School Description: An online university based out of Kansas City, City Vision University offers programs in fields like addiction studies, nonprofit management, and business administration. Primarily a Christian institution, City Vision is fully accredited by Distance Education Accrediting Commission, making it an excellent place for nontraditional students of the Christian faith to meet their educational needs.
Location: Adelphi, Maryland
School Description: University of Maryland University College is the second big public university to make our list. Located in Adelphi, MD, UMUC is part of the University of Maryland, College Park institution. Originally an evening program for adults beginning in the 1920s, today UMUC is a distance-education institution with over 60,000 undergraduate students.
Location: Ruidoso, New Mexico
School Description: Eastern New Mexico University is a state school based in Portales, NM, but with another degree-granting branch found in Ruidoso. The Ruidoso campus is a two-year school with a focus on community-based learning and adult education in a variety of programs.
Location: Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
School Description: A private college located in Elizabethtown, PA, Elizabethtown College offers degrees in fields as disparate as information technology, engineering, and humanities. The school has a focus on student service, with over 600 students and faculty participating annually in programs like Elizabethtown’s “Into the Streets” program.
Location: Danville, Virginia
School Description: Averett University is a private non-profit school located in Danville, VA, originally founded as a women’s college in the mid-1800s. Nowadays, the school has a large distance-learning program and offers courses in subjects like mathematics, communications, psychology, and even equestrian studies.
Location: Marylhurst, Oregon
School Description: A private liberal arts school located in Marylhurst, OR, Marylhurst University is one of the oldest institutions in all of Oregon. The first liberal arts college for women in the Northwest, Marylhurst University is also home to the “Art Gym,” a previously-unused athletics facility that now is home to a number of art projects, and is used to house senior art shows every year.
You’ll find our full list below, but there’s more to see here at Zippia.
Are you a high school student looking at colleges? Find out which colleges are the best for fraternities or sororities.
Or are you looking for more articles like this one? Check out which small colleges are the best in Kansas.
|Rank||Institution Name||% Of Students Nontraditional Age|
|4||American Sentinel University||97.83%|
|5||American Public University System||85.04%|
|6||Charter Oak State College||90.26%|
|7||Nazarene Bible College||91.70%|
|8||National American University||86.16%|
|9||Pennsylvania State University – World Campus||82.96%|
|10||City Vision University||89.62%|
|11||University of Maryland – University College||82.76%|
|12||Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso Campus||73.99%|
|14||Averett University-Non-Traditional Programs||90.82%|
|16||Coastline Community College||73.05%|
|17||Grand Canyon University||75.18%|
|20||Northeastern University Professional Advancement Network||70.27%|
|22||Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide||90.11%|
|23||College of Biblical Studies-Houston||86.52%|
|25||The Art Institute of Pittsburgh-Online Division||70.93%|
|26||City University of Seattle||77.93%|
|27||Wayland Baptist University||75.03%|
|30||Georgia Piedmont Technical College||72.08%|
|32||Central Texas College||64.32%|
|33||Antioch University Online||88.31%|
|34||Great Basin College||62.81%|
|35||Holy Apostles College and Seminary||82.58%|
|40||Epic Bible College||75.81%|
|41||Southern New Hampshire University||79.32%|
|43||University of Maine at Augusta||71.94%|
|45||SUNY Empire State College||83.61%|
|47||Northwest Technical College||58.24%|
|50||Lakeshore Technical College||62.78%|
|51||Rappahannock Community College||70.05%|
|52||New Mexico Junior College||56.52%|
|53||Colorado Christian University||73.02%|
|54||Florida Gateway College||59.44%|
|55||Athens State University||67.74%|
|57||Western Texas College||52.40%|
|58||Columbus Technical College||59.55%|
|60||University of St Francis||67.27%|
|61||Heritage Christian University||69.57%|
|62||St Petersburg College||57.21%|
|64||Northcentral Technical College||55.57%|
|65||Stark State College||63.82%|
|66||Pamlico Community College||70.45%|
|67||Lake Region State College||50.57%|
|68||Lorain County Community College||61.78%|
|69||Klamath Community College||56.78%|
|71||Arapahoe Community College||64.99%|
|72||Fayetteville Technical Community College||62.16%|
|74||Stanly Community College||57.83%|
|77||Lenoir Community College||60.21%|
|79||Minnesota West Community and Technical College||61.20%|
|80||Terra State Community College||59.46%|
|81||Metropolitan State University||73.41%|
|82||Technical College of the Lowcountry||55.96%|
|85||Maryville University of Saint Louis||65.68%|
|86||Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City||53.51%|
|87||Virginia Baptist College||62.96%|
|89||Cedar Valley College||57.09%|
|90||Kennebec Valley Community College||62.37%|
|91||McDowell Technical Community College||63.38%|
|92||College of the Siskiyous||61.69%|
|93||Central Ohio Technical College||59.03%|
|94||University of Maine at Fort Kent||56.64%|
|95||Clark State Community College||59.09%|
|96||The Christ College of Nursing and Health Sciences||48.03%|
|97||Kirtland Community College||55.28%|
|98||Central Georgia Technical College||62.10%|
|99||Granite State College||74.25%|